15 Airline CEOs and experts on travel distribution and airline merchandising to gather in Dublin


The Airlines in Transition summit, only two weeks away, will feature 15 of the world's most interesting aviation CEOs - from China's Hainan Airlines, Willie Walsh from IAG, JetBlue's Dave Barger, to one of Europe's most successful LCCs, Vueling's Alex Cruz. They will be discussing airline partnerships, global alliances and responses to low cost competition (and vice-versa).

And there is no hotter topic around the revenue end of the airline business at present than recapturing distribution, controlling it and monetising transactions. An exceptional group of experts will be discussing the distribution and merchandising aspects: Jeremy Wertheimer, Google's VP Travel; Farelogix CEO, Jim Davidson; IATA's NDC guru, Eric Leopold; Former Air Canada CEO, Montie Brewer; Derek Sharp from Travelport; Greg Gilchrist from Sabre Airline Solutions; SITA's Jim Peters and Datalex's Aidan Brogan.

All led in fascinating panel sessions by our eminent Thought Leaders, Jeff Shane, Rigas Doganis, CNN's Richard Quest, Prof Nawal Taneja and Gillian Gibson.

Some special delegate offers for CAPA Members and Group Discounts are still available – please contact CAPA for more information. 

Airlines in Transition 11/12 April, Dublin - Confirmed Executive Attendees (as at 21 March)

Thought Leaders:

  • CNN, Richard Quest, International Business Correspondent
  • IATA, Jeffrey Shane, General Counsel
  • Gillian Gibson, Airline Distribution Expert
  • Nawal Taneja, Airline Business Strategist and Published Author
  • Rigas Doganis, Non-executive Director, easyJet






Registration and welcome breakfast


Opening remarks from CAPA Chairman: Peter Harbison


Welcome speech from Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Ireland: : Leo Varadkar


Session #1 The framework: long-haul and short-haul changes in the past two years


0915 - 0940

Thought Leader introduction: Jeffrey Shane

0940 - 1110

Session #1: Panel 1 - Radical change in alliance and partnership relationships

The extent of change in alliance and partnership relations in the past year is unprecedented, shifting the course of the long-haul industry and reshaping the way many airlines conduct their global operations. It will take time for the implications to filter through, as competition authorities and combatants evaluate the positions against a constantly changing competitive backdrop.

The entry of the Gulf carriers either into Branded Global Alliances – Qatar Airways into one world – or the bilateral linkages of Etihad and Emirates cutting across the defensive lines of the Global Alliances, has forced a complete re-evaluation of how future partnership profiles will evolve.

Then there is the egocentric, or radial, alliance structure exemplified by Virgin Australia, as it establishes a series of bilateral links – mostly anti-trust immunised – which deliver it specific geographical access.

Meanwhile, within the BGAs, relationships are evolving too, as limited membership joint ventures (with anti-trust immunity) provide a special status for the two or three members involved; they then cooperate and compete as a group against other alliance airlines.

This Panel will explore the nature of these changes and their likely impact on the system as a whole and on the Branded Global Alliances.


  • Matthew Baldwin, Director Air Transport, European Commission
  • Willie Walsh, CEO, IAG
  • David Barger, CEO, JetBlue
  • Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO, Ethiopian

1110 - 1140

Coffee break

1140 - 1310

Session #1: Panel 2 - Where do smaller airlines position in the new partnership world?

In the jungle of long-haul global aviation it is the strongest who shape the changes. Entry costs are high if broad networks are to be developed effectively. Not all of the smaller airlines – regional, long haul, remote or centrally located – are able to shape a product that will create a sustainable future.

History suggests that even where “niches” can be cultivated, they tend to be time-limited in an industry where imitation is relatively easy and where powerful alternatives can be introduced by bigger or more specialised airlines.

The GBAs catered for some – but not all – of these smaller, or niche airlines. Even though they might have been poor cousins relative to the central players, they gained from the marketing exposure gained in this way as well as benefiting in such areas as safety supervision, maintenance services, joint purchasing and sharing of capacity offerings.

In a radial alliance world, there is little room for the smaller airlines as they generally cannot deliver the necessary geographical coverage. Yet some examples do exist and innovative participants like Aer Lingus, SATA, Vueling, Hainan Airlines, Alaska Airlines and others, have been able to carve out profitable operations by seeking out opportunities that are often different from the standard strategic fare that full service airlines have typically offered.

This panel explores some of these examples and look at whether there are common features that allow these smaller airlines to survive and prosper.


  • Cathal O’Connell, CEO, bmi Regional
  • Cath Lynn, Group Commercial Director, easyJet
  • Alex Cruz, CEO, Vueling
  • Antonio Menezes, CEO, SATA

1310 - 1410



Session #2 Evolving Airline Business Models


1410 - 1435

Thought Leader introduction – Rigas Doganis

1435 - 1605

Session #2: Panel 1 - How the Full Service Airlines are reshaping their models to compete in their respective environments

The Full Service/Network airlines are being forced to refocus their strategies to respond to attacks on their short haul spokes and increasingly on their long-haul routes – previously their refuge from aggressive competition.

In Asia a common response has been to establish subsidiary LCCs (and even to have them expand into other markets through cross border joint ventures). Formerly discredited in Europe – not the least because of union opposition, but also due to fears of cannibalisation – this phenomenon is now reappearing in various forms.

Two living experiments are now under way in Europe:

1)     Set up an LCC subsidiary but maintain the full service short-haul operations in parallel. This is a model adopted by most Asian carriers and South African Airways –  but previously abandoned by the US and some European carriers; and

2)     Set up or expand an existing LCC subsidiary and give it all non-feeder routes while the parents FSA only operates short-haul services feeding its long-haul hub(s). This is the emerging Lufthansa model and British Airways may be moving in the same direction.

And then, in Asia, examples like Singapore Airlines’ long-haul LCC Scoot, as well as the long-haul variant of QantasJetstar, seek to forestall LCC competition (and lower yields) on long-haul routes.

In an different context, another long-haul approach has been to adopt the strategy of “if you can’t beat them join them”, by linking with one or other of the Gulf carriers. Still there are new entrants appearing, like Norwegian, translating from short haul LCC to long-haul.

Which models are likely to succeed in the longer term and what are the features that make them most likely to survive?


  • Derek Sharp, General Manager, Global Distribution Sales and Services, Travelport
  • Christoph Mueller, CEO, Aer Lingus
  • Bernard Gustin, CEO, Brussels Airlines

1605 - 1630

Coffee break

1630 - 1800

Session #2: Panel 2 - Bridging the gap between full service airlines and low-cost carriers. How the low-cost carriers and hybrid airlines are entering from left stage to play in the FSCs’ markets

LCC/hybrids now often find themselves highly valued, as competing global alliance airlines seek to use them to distribute passengers domestically and regionally. But this means that the respective distribution platforms must be able to speak to each other and that they are able to share FFPs.

The (former) LCCs in many cases are consequently evolving/have evolved from the simple low cost identity in which they began life, searching variously for higher yielding traffic, wider market access and sustainability of one form or another as they adapt into a new environment.

A big step in the LCC/hybrid evolution is working out how to connect directly with other airlines, both hybrids and full service carriers. In addition to the strategic issues involved, there is a raft of technology and practical airport connectivity obstacles to be dealt with.

This is perhaps the most challenging interface in the airline system today and is a focus of attention for most LCC/hybrids, with solution providers racing to find answers to many new and complex demands.

But there are many other areas too where the former LCCs are blending their product presentation, with two class service, FFPs, lounges, use of GDSs and intermediaries, chasing corporate accounts and business travellers generally - all features previously uniquely associated with full service airlines.


  • Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO, Hamburg Airport
  • Tony Davis, Partner, Irelandia Investments
  • David Barger, CEO, JetBlue
  • Skuli Mogensen, CEO, Wow Air
  • Greg Gilchrist, CCO, Sabre Airline Solutions
  • Jochen Schnadt, Commercial Director, Monarch Airlines




1915 - 2200

Cocktails and Roundtable Dinner


Regulators out of control. The obsessive urge to control everything from denied boarding to charging for seat allocation. What’s the point? Do consumers really benefit?

An informal and entertaining dinner conversation, with no formal speakers, but the opportunity to share views and ask questions of a learned top table of 8-10 experts drawn from various industry groups.

At several events in the past CAPA has explored this very informal environment and found that participants greatly enjoy the informal nature of discussion over dinner.

Discussion Leader: Richard Quest, CNN




Session #3 Lighting Candles: Innovating to make profits: Big Data, Advanced Analytics, Merchandising/Ancillaries, Social Media


0900 - 0925

Thought Leader introduction – Nawal Taneja

0925 - 1055

Session #3: Panel 1 - How airlines can work better with airports and IT solution providers to improve the connection interface (and improve the bottom line!)

The notoriously unprofitable and incestuous airline industry continues to flounder, repeating the same mistakes, all the while failing to keep abreast of innovative ideas and developments across the travel industry. Although governments (and the EU) have a preoccupation with regulating and taxing every aspect of the industry, the major airlines’ main focus often appears to be to try to change everyone else but themselves.

As last year’s Chairman Jeff Shane said in his introduction to the Istanbul event, “Twenty-five centuries ago Confucius instructed us that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. While it certainly makes sense for the industry to continue its perennial quest to persuade governments to conform tax and regulatory policy to its own vision, there may well be greater utility in thinking about innovations that are more clearly within the industry’s control.“

Massive change is occurring in the way other companies do business. The importance of data use, the roles of intermediaries, the arrival of completely new players in the marketplace, like Google, Facebook and Apple; all this, coupled with consolidation and partnership changes inside the industry, make innovation essential.

Where are the lessons to be learnt? And can airlines make the transition into sustainable businesses for the 21st century?

Airlines working with:

Airports, to

  • facilitate and promote connections
  • enhance efficiencies
  • co-ordinate operational goals
  • reduce costs
  • generate greater revenue (merchandising, retail sales, on-ground and in-flight)

IT solution providers, to

  • improve interfaces, airline-airline and airline-airport
  • increase efficiency
  • enhance data sources and their monetization


  • Christoph Klingenberg, Senior Vice President & CIO Information Management, Lufthansa
  • Kevin Toland, CEO, Dublin Airport Authority
  • Aidan Brogan, CEO, Datalex
  • Jim Peters, CTO, SITA

1055 - 1120

Coffee Break

1120 - 1145

Thought Leader introduction – Gillian Gibson



1145 - 1300

Session #3: Panel 2 - Working with other airlines and consumers to enhance revenues
Working with:

(1) Other airlines, to:

  • generate loyalty (Frequent Flyer Programmes, seamless transfers)
  • improve data sources
  • maximise merchandising opportunities
  • improve seamless interconnectivity

(2) Consumers, to:

  • Improve the door-to-door travel experience
  • Offer more sophisticated IT-based options
  • Generate loyalty


  • Jochen Schnadt, Commercial Director, Monarch Airlines
  • Jeremy Wertheimer, VP Travel, Google
  • Eric Leopold, Director Passenger, IATA

1300 - 1400



Session #4 In Closing: What keeps airline CEOs awake at night – and what are their goals for 2015


1400 - 1425

Thought Leader introduction – Richard Quest

1425 - 1545

Session #4: Panel discussion and audience participation

We were going to conclude with a session on where the airline industry will be in 2030. But as our Thought Leader for this session rightly observed, that tends to lead to a lot of woolly futurism that does little to get us through what is increasingly a short- to medium-term focused strategic leadership challenge.

In practice, few CEOs seriously exercise their minds on a daily basis on where the industry  - and where his (because it is almost invariably a man) airline will be in 17 years. For the company strategists, surviving for two years fills most of the windscreen – and for operating officers, the horizon is often blurry beyond six months.

Yet upon this industry depends hundreds of billions of dollars in investment activity – for the tourism industry, for airports and other suppliers – as well as the vast social and employment implications which rely on the industry’s wellbeing.

For decades, airlines have been seeking greater freedom to behave like other industries, freed of unnecessarily burdensome regulation, permitted to merge, establishing equity-based global brands, freer entry to markets. These are all continuing background noise for the daily clamour of the airline CEO – but his role is to satisfy today’s shareholders, or in other cases to achieve very discrete government objectives, but in a commercially sustainable way.

Shifts in the way product is distributed; the potential use of Big Data; the impact of global warming on the industry and on travel flows; oil prices and alternative fuel sources; the nature of the airline product itself – who flies, will virtual airlines prevail?; skills shortages and jobs and employee satisfaction. All of these will contribute to shaping the new world.

The long term is easy. It is the short to medium term that exercises the CEO’s brain at 2AM. Richard Quest will delve into this mind and undoubtedly come up with some revelations!



Chairman close


Some special delegate offers for CAPA Members and Group Discounts are still available – please contact CAPA for more information.

Or view the Airlines in Transition website for more information.

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